Information system

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An information system (short IS , also information and communication system , short IuK system ) is a socio-technical system , which has the task of meeting the demand for information. It is a human / task / technology system that produces, procures, distributes and processes data (or information ). Related topics are the information infrastructure and the information function .

In addition, information system in the more general sense describes a “system of information” that is interrelated and organized in a certain way. Knowledge in particular is such a system of information.

The terms information system and application system are often used synonymously. In this case, of information in the strict sense understood as a computer-based application system ( "and so it is i. D. R. understood"). However, it is important to understand that an application system with application software and databases is only part of an information system.


Business administration

"Sum of all regulated internal and external information connections as well as their technical and organizational equipment for information acquisition and processing. The information system is the formal part of the entire corporate communication system . "

- Gabler Verlag (editor) : Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon

This definition focuses primarily on information acquisition and processing.

business Informatics

"Information systems are human / task / technology systems, in short MAT systems."

- Heinrich et al

The definition of an information system as a human / task / technology system is fundamental and should therefore be explained below.

"Abbr. for information and communication systems, which are used in particular when (which is often the case) the information purpose [...] is in the foreground and communication is a means to an end. "

- Heinrich et al.

All three definitions describe that an information system interacts with its environment. It also interacts with other information systems so that they are interdependent and work together. This interdependent entity is known as the information infrastructure .

Human / task / technology system

Schematic representation of a MAT system

A human / task / technology system (MAT) system is a structure of relationships that is characterized as "open, dynamic, complex, complicated and socio-technical". The system consists of three elements that define this relationship structure through their cooperation and interaction:


The human being is the user (for example in a company) who, as a responsible party, wants to perform various tasks with the system. The system should be adapted to him and his needs. The developers and planners of an information system are also classified under the human structural element , as they too are in a mutual relationship with the system.

Systems that deal mainly with the individual level are called user-centered information systems . These are mainly characterized by the fact that they were created with the help of a user-centered system development. The system takes into account elements such as user roles, user models and user profiles, through which the users can be included and categorized according to their behavior, their tasks and their rights in the system, for example in persona . Users have relevant characteristics and skills that make them clearly distinguishable when interacting with the system. The user behavior is also systematically considered, especially the interaction behavior of the users, i.e. the way in which they communicate with the system, and the information behavior, i.e. H. the stereotypical actions in the search for, distribution and processing of information. In the case of user-centered system development, a user analysis is carried out first, then a user-centered design and, in the ex-post perspective, a check of the usability. This development method is often used in systems adapted for end users and places high demands on both the human and technical components in the development of a system that contributes to the solution of tasks.


The task is the problem that is to be solved with the system. It mostly consists of operational objectives as well as system development tasks in the development of information systems or problems of private households. The task also defines the goal or the functional requirement in the development of the information system. It is through information production and dissemination of the information demand is met, which is sufficient for the information requirements that raises the problem to be solved. This should be done as effectively as possible, according to economic parameters such as "productivity, profitability or quality".

Information systems that are primarily dedicated to this element are called task-centered information systems . These systems are the most widespread and, due to their frequency, are of great importance in scientific consideration. Here, above all, investigation models are important that show how different structural units of an organization cooperatively solve a task or how the information is efficiently processed in company information systems. For this purpose, reference models were developed that always place different aspects of the task at the center of the investigation. They represent reference points for the development of further company-specific models. Another main focus is on the functions and processes that help the task holder to perform tasks. These show, in a generalized way, the various steps that data , information or products must complete one after the other in a system and how these are related to one another. More precise examples can be found in the typification of business information systems mentioned below.


This consists of the software and hardware of the system, the purpose of which is to fulfill various processing, distribution and storage processes. These are used on the one hand to perform tasks, and on the other hand to develop a system.

Systems that focus on technology are called technology-centered information systems . For example, the system architecture and its technical components are examined. Information and communication technology as well as system development and implementation methods - such as special programming techniques - are the focus of the research interest. When developing the required technology, care must be taken that purely communicative interaction with the technology cannot automatically generate information. For this, added value must be generated by technology; for example, different graphics must have clearly recognizable meanings in software.

Working techniques (methods and tools)

Working techniques mediate between these three levels and try to understand and optimize the various relationships. For example, there are various concepts, models, principles and strategies for the design and use of information systems and information infrastructures in computer science or the social sciences .

So far there are only models that consider the congruence between tasks and technology ( task technology fit models ). With these it is expected that everyone who solves a certain task wants to use the most suitable technology and consequently chooses it. However, the human factor is mostly missing here. A model (Human-Task-Technology-Fit-Model) that considers the congruence of all elements does not exist until today.

The definition of the MAT system also includes the comprehensive consideration of all three elements and relies on a functional and communication error-free interaction of these. Business informatics is the only scientific discipline that tries to develop a holistic understanding of this functionality, while in the social sciences, business administration and computer science mostly only the various sub-models and systems are examined. These sub-systems, which only deal with partial aspects of the system, are, for example, a user system (human / technology and human / task relationship), a task system (task / human and task / technology relationship) and a technology system (technology / human - and technology / task relationship).

Shell model for MAT systems

Schematic representation of the Teubner shell model

Another noteworthy approach that can contribute to a better understanding of MAT systems is Teubner's shell model, which focuses on the socio-technical part of the system, in contrast to Heinrichs u. a. View which, in addition to the general presentation, also focuses on the scientific investigation of the system through the incorporated work techniques and methods. The basic goal of the system, the support of operational tasks, does not appear in Teubner's scheme as a single physical object, which initially looks like the representation of a human-technology system, but is ideally in the background. Graphically, the task is realized through the concept of the application system and has the value of solving an operational problem that arises from the general interaction of people and technology with a given task. Meanwhile, the technology is divided into application software and basic software, summarized as a software system and in computers, or other technical equipment, summarized as a hardware system in the lowest shell.

The human level forms the outer shell, which is mainly above the software, but also above the hardware, and is therefore also arranged above the task and application dimension. By enclosing the other shells, the completeness and interaction of the information system is defined. Humans access all levels of the system. Working techniques and methods, as they were defined in the first view, are omitted here, since the statements on the design and structure of the system are only made here through the representation in different shells. Similarly, the task has only faded into the background as the main ideal goal to be achieved with the system. The interactions within the system are also only shown by the overlapping of the upper shells and not by clear arrows, as in Heinrich et al. a.

Both models therefore view the MAT system in a different way, with the first model being preferred as the better representation, particularly with regard to the complete, tangible representation of all MAT segments. Teubner's shell model only emphasizes the overlapping of the individual elements on the subordinate segments more clearly.

This variable division and diverse modeling shows what Heinrich u. a. mentioned dynamics and openness of the MAT system, whereby it can be seen as the basis of any information system.


Using the MAT system elements


Typing according to users or user types can take place here. The system types have certain user groups in their names. Examples are end user systems or management information systems . However, since no system for user-centered information systems has yet been developed, there is still a lot of research to be done here. One approach to typing would be to use the properties of the users themselves or the properties of the context of use. User characteristics would be age, gender or qualifications or experience in handling information and communication technologies. Context properties would be, for example, the frequency and duration of use and the place of use.


A typification is made by the characteristics task phase, task type, task scope and company type . These characteristics can in turn be broken down. The task phase includes development tasks and usage tasks. In the development tasks, individual tasks of the system development are used as a classification feature. These are always execution tasks. Usage tasks primarily focus on system use. In doing so, they concretise management and execution tasks. The task types can be divided into execution tasks and management tasks . When it comes to execution tasks, a distinction is made between information systems with administrative and dispositive tasks in the operational functional areas. The management task typification feature primarily includes planning and control systems. The system types mentioned can also be divided into different scope of tasks. The following distinctions are possible:

  • Individual tasks vs. Group tasks
  • Function-related vs. overarching tasks
  • Intra vs. inter-organizational tasks
  • Sector-specific vs. overarching tasks
  • Single vs. macroeconomic tasks

Lastly, the typing feature is operating type to call, which is divided into tasks in enterprises and tasks management operations.

Typing of the system element task and its dependencies

The typing is based on the systematics of the technical infrastructure developed by Heinrich and others. This system distinguishes between types of technology, e.g. B. input and output technology, processing technology, programming technology, storage technology, network and transport technology or protection technology. Examples for this are:

A technology-centered typification is rarely found in the literature. From this one can conclude that the tasks to be supported or the user are more important or that the specific information and communication technology should be named and not typified. It is also possible that specific techniques include several types of techniques. Examples would be workflow management systems in which there is a combination of transport and storage technology, or knowledge-based systems that combine processing technology and rule-based programming technology.

Based on phases in information behavior

An information system tries to meet the demand for information for the fulfillment of operational tasks. The information gathering process plays an important role in this. In the following, a typification is carried out based on the phases of this process and thus the information behavior of the users is typified.

Information perception

This phase focuses on tracking down and identifying information. It is necessary to activate the responsible person who wants to perform a business task and therefore sifts through available material and evaluates it according to its information content. A business intelligence system that supports this phase should be mentioned here.

Information gathering

If the responsible party perceives information as being purposeful, it should be collected on electronic and non-electronic storage media. As a result, not all information finds its way into computerized information systems.

Information structuring and organization

In order to cope with information from the information gathering phase, it is necessary that these information stocks are structured, classified, indexed and linked. This means that this data can also be made available to third parties. Databases or archiving systems that can handle such a task should be mentioned here as examples .

Information production

In order to make perceived, collected and structured information available to other task holders, information production techniques are required. Since other authorities only view information as data, a targeted conversion of data into information must take place in order to ensure that information can be retrieved. This happens in this phase.

Information maintenance

This phase is characterized by the updating and documentation of the data and available information for the purpose of future information production. Procedures for data maintenance and data cleansing are called document management or archiving systems.

Look at the types of information systems

Company information system

Service processes and exchange relationships within a company or between companies are supported by a so-called company information system. Enterprise Architecture Frameworks (EAF) support the management of these company information systems. There are more than fifty EAFs that cite procedural models and architecture reference models ( regulatory framework ) with their concepts . Special company characteristics and thus special information system structures are in turn taken into account by special EAF. A virtual enterprise can be cited as an example of this and thus for companies among themselves: temporary partnership for the fulfillment of a common business purpose (e.g. for large construction projects). The special requirements of such an information system can be found, for example, in the Virtual Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology (VERAM).

Computerized information system

Example of a computerized information system

A system that (partially) automates the processing, storage, recording and / or transformation of data and information with the help of information technology is called a computer-aided information system.

Overall, however, it only includes parts of the overall company information system.

Internal information systems

According to the direction of integration
  • Horizontally integrated information system
If several subsystems act on one level in a process to create a service, there is a horizontal information system that connects them.
  • Vertically integrated information system
Similar to the horizontally integrated information system, the vertically integrated information system also connects subsystems. However, in this case it is a question of subsystems that carry out their functions at different levels.
Operational information system

Databases that control current business transactions can be changed or queried through user input. One speaks here of operational information systems.

Office information system

An office information system supports office employees with typical office activities. This is a computer-aided information system that records, stores, transforms and exchanges the required information.

External information system

inter-company information system

An inter-company information system connects the information systems of two or more companies. Here, an attempt is made to improve joint cooperation.

Industry information system

The branch information system is a common information system for the companies of different branches of the economy. It is intended to support business relationships with one another.

Consumer information system

A customer information system connects companies with their already acquired or potential customers.

MAT system components using the example of the fictitious online mail order company Example-Versand

User system
  • End users on their home PCs who order goods using an online form
  • Employed office clerk who controls and processes order processes on the PC, creates invoices, operates accounting
  • Warehouse employee who orders, packs and dispatches goods and works with digital warehouse software for this
  • Analysts and programmers at Example-Versand who access detailed order and usage logs on the ordering website, analyze customer behavior and optimize the sales software accordingly
  • Manager from Example-Versand , who uses a management information system to gain insight into and control all areas
Task system
  • Handling of order and shipping processes
  • Purchase of goods when the inventory falls below a specified minimum
  • Accounting
  • Possibly price fixing based on demand and the remaining stock
Technical system
  • Linux web server for the website of Example-Versand at a service provider for server hosting
  • Desktop computer in the office building from Example-Versand

Areas of application

Information systems are used in many areas such as administration, economics or medicine.

State administration

The police use an information system to support search and investigation work ( INPOL ). This stores all information about people and objects. At the request of a police officer, this information can be accessed at will. The military also uses information systems, such as the Bundeswehr's FüInfoSys command information system or the TBMCS ( Theater Battle Management Core Systems ) to coordinate operations by the US Air Force .


Information systems are very important in healthcare today. One task is the administration of master data, patient data and case data. The electronic medical record in the form of the electronic index card is only possible through information systems.

There are many other information systems that accompany us in our everyday life. Some examples: Internet search engines, navigation systems, cash register systems, ATMs, etc.

Qualitative characteristics of an information system

The task of an information system is to provide the user with information. An important feature of a high quality information system is its efficiency. An information system is more efficient than another if and only if it is

  • provides more information in the same period or
  • makes the same amount of information available faster.

In addition to acquiring information, an information system also has the task of processing information. So it is not just a question of the amount of information, but also of its quality. Too large a volume of information supplied can lead to information overload or to an information shock and thus to a poorer reception of the user.

Cultural influences

Especially with regard to the economic design of information systems, it is crucial to bridge existing cultural differences. Culture relates to values, goals and customs. The networks implied by globalization must be adapted to the respective cultural conditions in different countries so that misunderstandings are avoided and efficient action is possible. It is therefore of great importance for companies to adapt to the respective national cultures and to design the information systems accordingly in order to guarantee efficient action from an economic and communication perspective.

See also




  • Hans Robert Hansen, Gustaf Neumann: Course Technology . Revised. UTB, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4239-2581-1 .
  • Ilze Zigurs, Bonnie K. Buckland: A Theory of Task / Technology Fit and Group Support Systems Effectiveness . In: Management Information Systems Quarterly . tape 22 , no. 3 , 1993, p. 313-334 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. from English information system or Latin informare ' to form' , 'a form, shape, to give information'; Greek σύστημα , ancient Greek pronunciation sýstema , today sístima 'the structure' , 'assembled', 'connected'
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